Catalyst

Games people play

Virendra Pandit | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on January 18, 2017

Manipulative moves When you become a pawn in somebody's game   -  Rido/shutterstock.com

How a few startups are finding ways to deal with office politics



You think your previous company was better than this one? You now feel you erred in moving here? Your new team members are not very welcoming. So you start making your presence felt by throwing your weight around, causing some unpleasantness.

This is precisely the sort of thing that large corporations find difficult to check mainly due to hierarchical or bureaucratic systems and accelerating objectives — the Tata-Mistry imbroglio may be a case in point. But the new-economy, tech-enabled enterprises have the advantage of agility to deal with internal politics at workplace. Several startups, in fact, have active HR measures to deal with it.

“Office politics is simply about the difference of opinions between people at work and leadership approaches,” says Chetna Gogia, Director - HR, PayU India, an online payment company that is expanding rapidly.

Minimising politics in a growing organisation begins with its leadership, says Gogia, and the best way to accomplish this is to encourage transparency and collaboration among team members at all levels. “We try to promote this through townhalls, group lunches, and regular staff communication. We ask each employee to understand his or her exact role and how it contributes to the success of the company, and then ask them to be prepared to deliver.”

Raghav Himatsingka, Founder-CEO, Truckola, a transportation service provider, says lack of feedback and delegation is what fosters internal politics. “There should be a culture of accepting another’s viewpoint rather than dictating decisions. One should be allowed to speak one’s mind. Daily bonhomie meetings go a long way in achieving this,” he says.

Hierarchies cannot always be eliminated, he thinks, but a leader should also be democratic enough to listen to others. Increasingly, analytics is coming to the rescue. “In the new-age economy, data-driven decisions are important. No decision can be taken on the basis of a hypothesis.’

Shantanu Mathur, Country Head, Knowlarity Cloud Telephony, says the extent of politics within a workplace depends on the size and culture of the company. Often there is negativity when people from different work cultures get together and are unable to adopt to the new environment quickly, he says.

“Politics also creeps in when the resources and people managing them are misaligned and they work for different goals,” he says, adding that setting targets helps. He also favours incentives to be given to achievers.

Ambika Sharma, Founder-Managing Director, Pulp Strategy Communications, feels that any miscommunication retards growth. She frowns on one-upmanship and says criteria for work should be laid out clearly.

To sum up, clear communication, constant feedback and listening go a long way in curbing office politics.

Published on January 18, 2017
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